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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is a Quality Management Plan (QMP)?
    A Quality Management Plan (QMP) is a document that is used as a management tool. It describes a documented, structured system (DES QA System) of policies and procedures that assure the environmental data we generate or review is of sufficient quality to meet our needs. Policies and procedures, areas of application, and roles, responsibilities and authorities are the type of things that are defined in a QMP. The QMP also defines how we audit (check) the quality system. The overall goal of implementing the QMP is to produce defensible products and decisions.

    The QMP provides a Department-wide process to make it easier to consistently define quality needs for individual projects that different Department units may undertake. In dealing with the Legislature, the public, EPA and other stakeholders, using the QMP will allow us to define and defend the quality of data we use to make decisions. The QMP will describe how we decide when we need data of lesser or greater quality, allowing us both to avoid generating data that we don’t need, or which is more expensive than we need or data which does not have sufficient quality to allow us to make appropriate decisions. EPA requires us to have a QMP that covers all EPA-funded programs, but it makes more sense to have the QMP cover the entire Department.

    At DES, we have had several QA policies and procedures in place for years. The QMP allows us to incorporate existing documents by reference. In fact, the QMP gives us an opportunity to gather existing policies and procedures into one package and address any inconsistencies. It gives us an opportunity to get historic unwritten work practices that work well for us into a written format so that the experience of important people can be preserved.

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  • Why is a QMP necessary?
    Since the 1970s, it has been EPA policy to require a documented quality control system, in the form of a QMP, as a condition of accepting EPA funds. EPA Region 1 has recently reinforced this requirement.

    Much more importantly is that DES has decided that the QMP needs to cover all programs that gather environmental data. In some cases, separating the EPA-funded activities from the rest is not feasible. However, there is a basic need to document our practices better so that our information is as credible and defensible as possible. Simply put, saying "I’m an expert, I know what I’m doing" is not sufficient.

    We also need to document the excellent procedures that are passed along verbally in many DES programs. Important knowledge can easily get lost when it isn’t documented.

    The DES Quality Assurance (QA) System, which the QMP describes, also forces us to look over our own procedures periodically to ensure that they haven’t become out of date, or that the work is no longer necessary.

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  • What are the benefits of DES's QA system?
    Successful implementation of the DES (QA) System leads to:
    • Scientific Data Integrity – DES will produce data of known and documented quality based on sound scientific principles.
    • Reduced or Justifiable Resource Expenditures – Resource expenditures can be reduced if DES’s information needs are more closely matched to the information collection. Through proper planning, only the correct type, amount, and quality of data will be collected for DES use.
    • Proper Evaluation of Internal and External Activities – The DES QA System provides documentation of activities and improved oversight for evaluation purposes, which reduces the potential for waste, fraud, and abuse.
    • Reliable and Defensible Decisions – When the quality of data are known, it is possible to determine whether the data can be used for a specific decision. This reduces embarrassing surprises and challenges to regulations, permit appeals, etc.
    • Burden Reduction – As DES better defines the data needed for a specific application, the burden on other organizations that are required to collect and/or report data to DES may be reduced.
    • Delegation of Authority – Once the DES QA system is running, EPA has indicated that they can delegate the responsibility of approval of project-specific QAPPs (see below) to DES. This should result in lessening the administrative burden of producing necessary QAPPs.
    • Overall, implementation of the DES QA System will reduce the Agency’s vulnerabilities and increase DES’s ability to make reliable, cost-effective, and defensible decisions.
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  • What are the roles and responsibilities of a DES Quality Assurance Manager and QA Team?
    DES Quality Assurance Managers are tasked with reporting on quality issues to senior management, providing independent oversight, and assuring the implementation of the QA system. This individual must function independently of direct environmental data generation, model development, or technology development responsibility. The QMP also defines the responsibilities of the Quality Assurance Manager and other quality management personnel the following activities:
    • Facilitating the development and maintenance of the DES QMP;
    • Representing the organization on matters pertaining to quality management;
    • Providing expert assistance to DES personnel on quality assurance and quality control issues;
    • Developing and implementing a Quality Assurance Training Program;
    • Reviewing and/or approving quality management documentation; overseeing and assessing the organization’s quality system.
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  • How is a graded approach applied to DES's Quality System?
    Because of the diversity of work conducted by the Agency, DES recognizes that a "one size fits all" approach to quality requirements will not work. Therefore, the implementation of the DES QA System is based on a graded approach. Applying a graded approach means that quality system requirements for different programs will vary according to the specific objectives and needs of the project. For example, the quality controls of a research program are different from that of a regulatory compliance program because the purpose or intended use of the data is different. Once a graded approach has been applied to the components of a quality system, it is then applied to the documentation required by that system.
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  • Does a quality system ensure that data collected are good data?
    No. Data are neither "good" nor "bad" but rather are either useful for their intended purpose or not useful for their intended purpose. One must know in what context data will probably be used to judge whether or not the data are adequate
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  • What is the difference between quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC)?
    Quality assurance is a management or oversight function; it deals with setting policy and running an administrative system of management controls that cover planning, implementation, and review of data collection activities and the use of data in decision-making. Quality control is a technical function that includes all the scientific precautions, such as calibrations and duplications that are needed to acquire data of known and adequate quality.
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  • What is the difference between a Quality Management Plan and a Quality Assurance Project Plan?
    A Quality Management Plan (QMP) is a document that describes a quality system in terms of the organizational structure, policy and procedures, functional responsibilities of management and staff, lines of authority, and required interfaces for those planning, implementing, documenting, and assessing all activities conducted. A QMP describes an organization’s activities.

    A Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) is a program-specific document that describes the necessary quality assurance, quality control, and other technical activities that must be implemented to ensure that the results of the work performed on that project will satisfy the stated performance criteria. A QMP documents the overall organization/program, whereas a QAPP documents project-specific information. Ordinarily, full-fledged QAPPs are only required for EPA-funded data gathering work.

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  • Who do I contact if I have questions?
    If you have an NHDES QA System-related question, please contact Vincent Perelli, NHDES QA Manager at (603) 271-8989 or Daniel Hrobak, NHDES Assistant QA Manager at (603) 271-2941, or any member of the NHDES QA Team.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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